All the Pretty Things

by Emily Arsenault

“You know, I was wondering…Did Morgan seem okay to you these last few days? I mean, after the initial shock of finding Ethan wore off?”…

“This is a complicated situation, Ivy. You have to remember that you can’t solve everybody’s problems.”

Ratings & Reviews

Book Grade: C+

Emily Arseanault has tried to tackle a lot with All the Pretty Things, and I don’t know that it worked for me. This book is part mystery, part exploration of female friendship, and attempts to address sexual assault. Unfortunately, the plodding dialogue and the slow plot movement made this difficult to wade through. Ivy is likeable, but fairly bland; the workers at the theme park are extremely polarized and there are a lot of questions that are left unanswered as the book rushes toward the end. I was saddened because I really wanted to like this book, but the one thing that initially hooked me – the mysterious death of Ethan – was put on the back burner while minor details about the theme park were emphasized. I really appreciate the foundation of the work, but the minor details detracted from the book overall.

Movie Rating: PG-13+

This book hovers on that fine line between a PG-13 movie and an R movie. There is swearing, drinking, mention of partying and weed, and the theme of sexual assault wafts through the entire story. All the Pretty Things is intended for a more mature reader – theme wise- and works under the assumption that most teenagers won’t mind repeated mentions of topics like these, but the book only serves to normalize many of the behaviors exhibited.

Would I Buy This for My Library: No

All the Pretty Things is not what I expected. When compared to other books that focus on sexual assault in a really thoughtful way, I felt a bit frustrated by this. The mystery element is used to entice readers, but really has little to do with the focus of the story. While this may appeal to a few readers, given the limited budgets many libraries work with, I would opt for another book instead.

Ethan is dead. The sweet teenage boy with Downs Syndrome was found by the bridge that he used to walk home. Ivy is out of town when her best friend, Morgan, finds Ethan’s body and returns to her dad’s theme park – where both Ethan and Morgan worked – to a mystery and silence. Morgan doesn’t want to talk about it (and in fact, is hospitalized for a while because of her reaction to everything), so Ivy decides to dig a bit by interviewing those who knew Ethan best – his Funland co-workers, including his two cousins.

In addition to trying to find out what really happened to Ethan, and helping Morgan recover, Ivy must help her dad coordinate a princess parade and the region’s largest donut unveiling for the Funland theme park. As she begins to dig for the truth, though, Ivy realizes that she might not know the truth about her own life and those she thought that she was closest to.

Book Talk Questions:

  1. Describe Ivy’s dad. What is her relationship like with him.
  2. What does Morgan give Ivy when Ivy visits the hospital? What does this lead Ivy to believe?
  3. What does Ivy notice Winnie do during the princess parade? What does she assume from this?
  4. Jason and Ivy talk about building forts as children. What does Jason tell Ivy about one of her favorite memories? What does she slowly start to realize about her mother?
  5. What happens at the donut sprinkle party? How does Ivy react? Do you think that this had anything to do with what Ivy learned from Morgan the night before?

A Perfect Read for Fans Of…

  • Wrecked
  • Speak
  • One of Us Is Lying
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